During my own school days, one of our holidays off was February 12th, for Lincoln’s Birthday, which was soon followed by Washington’s Birthday on the 22nd–commonly falling during our winter school vacation week. These days, it seems a little sad that both holidays have been combined into one “Presidents’ Day” that falls mid-way between the two dates.
For certain, I am no expert on Abraham Lincoln, nor Civil War history but I feel quite fortunate to have visited some of the historic sites associated with his life. In addition to seeing the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, DC, and visiting the grounds of Gettysburg, (both on two separate occasions), I have also visited The Lincoln Home, in Springfield, Illinois and the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, located near Lerna, Illinois.
The sites in Illinois were visited on a trip I took with my children, made in the summer of 1998–just a few months prior to my mom’s emergency Cancer surgery. My dad’s first cousin, Eleanor, was living in Peoria at the time of our visit. Her mother, Hazel, was sister to my paternal grandfather. In future writings, I may expand on this branch further but will keep it brief today. On this summer vacation trip, we flew out together from RI with my mom but split up in our travel at Chicago; from that point, my mom went to Peoria and stayed with Eleanor while my children and I went on to St. Louis.
During part of that vacation week, we made a loop-trek from St. Louis up to Peoria to visit, having stopped over in Springfield on the way. While in Springfield, we took one of those hop-on-and-off trolleys which I would highly suggest as a good way to get around and see the sites. The Lincoln Home was one of our stops which is located at the corner of 8th and Jackson Streets.
Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer and moved to Springfield, Illinois in 1837. He married Mary Todd on November 4, 1842 and they purchased the home on January 16, 1844. They had four sons, one died at age three.
The Lincoln Home is a National Historic Site, part of the National Park Service. Lincoln lived in the home from 1844 to 1861 before becoming the 16th President of the US–elected on November 6, 1860 and re-elected on November 8, 1864.
The Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, is located south of Charleston, Illinois, near the town of Lerna. In the park is a replica of the log cabin that was built and occupied by Abe’s father Thomas Lincoln. Note that the cabin was never occupied by Abe.
The history park is set up as a farm with animals and crops that would have been common during that historic timeframe. The farmstead is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in ten states that were still in rebellion. Full abolition of slavery was achieved in late 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified.
The Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1-3, 1863. The Gettysburg National Cemetery, in Pennsylvania, was dedicated with The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863.
My featured postcard for “One Postcard Saturdays” series was published by the E. Nash Co., copyrighted in 1908, it was a Lincolns Birthday Series, No. 1. This card sent by Mrs. Goff, in February of 1909 to Grandma Julia (Julia Ann Moore James), in Plainville, Mass.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, this postcard was titled “Lincoln Centennial Souvenir 1809-1909”–in recognition of one hundred years.
Also on the front of the postcard it says: “Abraham Lincoln, The Martyred President” and there is an Abe quote: “The brave men, living and dead, who
struggled here, have consecrated far above our poor power to add or detract.”
The bottom front of the postcards says: “Immortalized by an oration on the occasion of the dedication of The National Cemetery at Gettysburg, the field of the most sanguinary conflict of the Civil War, a struggle which decided the supremacy of the National Government.”
President Lincoln was Assassinated in Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, DC, on April 14, 1865 and died on 15th–the following day. There is another postcard which tells about the assassination with printed information on the reverse side, there is no publisher listed. I am not going to display the actual card but I will reprint the information, it follows:
On April 14, 1865, Mrs. Lincoln made up a theater party to see Laura Keene at Ford’s Theater in “Our American Cousin.” On arriving, the President was wildly cheered and the orchestra played “Hail to the Chief!” During the third act, J. Wilkes Booth, a handsome young actor, glided into the President’s box, the door of which he barred, and armed with a revolver and a dagger approached his victim from the rear and fired the fatal shot. Lincoln’s head fell forward on his breast. Booth, crying dramatically, “Sie semper tyrannis!” stabbed Major Rathbone and vaulted the railing. The assassin’s spur, catching in the one of the American flags draping the box, threw him to the stage below, breaking his leg. Instantly he was up, and brandishing his bloody knife at the dazed audience he fled to the rear exit, where he mounted his horse and rode for his life. Several days after he was coralled in a barn, which was fired, and while thus at bay he was shot down. Lincoln died the next morning, April 15, 1865 at the age of 56. The following day Ford’s Theater was draped in mourning.
While preparing to write this posting today, I made an effort to find some of my pictures that I took at the Illinois historic sites but I was unable to locate them and did not want to spend more time looking.
On a separate road trip in 2015, I was able to visit the National Cemetery in Gettysburg (for the second time, the first time I was about ten years old). All of the digital pictures posted above and below here today, I personally took at Gettysburg National Cemetery.
In closing, I hope that young people may have the opportunity to learn about Lincoln and his Birthday, even if the day is not officially celebrated anymore.
Until next time…
The webpage for the Lincoln Home: nps.gov/liho/index.htm
The website for the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site is: lincolnlogcabin.org
The webpage for the Gettysburg National Cemetery is: nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/pennsylvania